The White House will host a 1,000-person gathering on the South Lawn on the Fourth of July, a celebratory display meant to signal that President Biden delivered on a promise that Americans could expect to return to some semblance of normal life by the holiday.
Essential workers and military families will be invited to participate in the South Lawn event, and administration officials have encouraged local leaders to hold their own celebrations: “America is headed into a summer dramatically different from last year. A summer of freedom. A summer of joy. A summer of reunions and celebrations,” an email circulated to local leaders by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs said.
The National Parks Service announced that visitors are encouraged to attend a holiday fireworks display on the National Mall and that all nearby monuments will be open. (Last year, attendees were advised to stay socially distanced and to avoid traveling into the capital.)
Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington also issued a statement that “D.C. is open and ready to welcome back visitors” for the holiday.
“We thank President Biden and his team for acting with urgency to get the vaccine to the American people so that we could save lives, get our country open, and celebrate together once again,” Ms. Bowser said.
The large celebration goes well beyond the scope of what Mr. Biden had promised three months ago. In a televised address in March to mark the anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic, Mr. Biden said the country could expect to celebrate with friends and family on the Fourth of July, as long as they took the chance to get vaccinated and did not prematurely abandon mask wearing, social distancing and other measures to contain the virus.
“July 4th with your loved ones is the goal,” he said. “This is not the time to let up.”
The modest expectations Mr. Biden laid out in his speech have given way to the largest planned event of his presidency, one designed to emphasize the speed with which the Biden administration has gotten shots in arms. Still, with a recent slowdown in vaccination rates, particularly in Southern states, Biden may not reach his goal of 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4. If the pace of adult vaccination continues on the seven-day average, the nation will come in just shy of Mr. Biden’s target, with roughly 67 percent of adults partly vaccinated by July 4, according to a New York Times analysis.
In recent days, administration officials have subtly started to shift their responses when asked if that goal will still be met.
“There’s no question it’s a bold and ambitious goal,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary told reporters last week. “Regardless of where we are on July 4th, we’re not shutting down shop. On July 5th, we’re going to continue to press to vaccinate more people across the country.”
“I know that black hole that seems to consume you, that fills up your chest when you lose someone that’s close to you, that you adored,” he said Monday in Brussels.
He continued: “Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We’ve had enough pain.”
Lazaro Gamio and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.